HyperCard 2.0 Update

Voice Card  -  Volume 15  -  John Card Number 4  -  Sat, Jul 28, 1990 10:37 PM

This is a response to Vol 14 John 17 ("HyperCard 2.0")...

Over the last few weeks, I have had an opportunity to work with a pre-release copy of HyperCard 2.0. The official release is just around the corner.

There are still a few bugs, as is always the case with beta copies of a new product, but on the whole, 2.0 is NICE.

There are dozens of minor improvements. For example, dialog boxes can now have more than one line of text. And scrollable windows work correctly, that is, the scrollbar turns gray only when there is more text than will fit in the field rectangle (I currently simulate this effect as part of the harvesting process). Most of the improvements are in areas that only a programmer would appreciate; suffice it to say that almost every wish I have made over the last two years has been granted.

Perhaps the biggest change is that version 2.0 allows variable card sizes and multiple windows. Even those of us with nine inch screens can appreciate the possibility of scrolling over the surface of large maps or cutting and pasting between multiple cards on the same screen. The current limitation on card size was the chief objection raised by HyperCard critics; the new stacks will be able to do just about anything a standalone can do.

Another significant improvement is in the area of report generation. The combination of page-sized cards and report templates means that it is now feasible to print directly from HyperCard rather than exporting text to a word processor or using third party XCMDs. It will also be possible to bypass the various system dialogs so that the user can just push a button and go.

Perhaps the most significant new feature for voice card users is styled text, that is, the ability to use different fonts, sizes, italics, bold, etc., in the same text field. There is also support for hypertext so that clicking on a specially marked word or phrase will jump to a footnote, definition, or other card. It should now be possible to create a full-featured hypertext word processor entirely in HyperCard!

Paul will be glad to hear that version 2.0 provides for the display of color pictures. 2.0 also handles more sound formats, allows full control over menus, provides for nifty floating palettes, adds some new visual effects, and includes a powerful and elegant icon editor so that you can roll your own icons. The list goes on and on.

Version 2.0 is supposed to execute scripts a bit faster, but I haven't seen a dramatic difference so far (at least it's not slower). Despite all the new features, the new version looks very much like the old and does not require much in the way of new training. It seems to convert old stacks without causing any problems whatsoever; conversion is painless.

So how is all of this going to effect us in Archipelago land? First of all, two key points: 1) once a stack is converted to version 2.0 there is no going back, and 2) version 2.0 requires system 6.4 (or better).

Some of you are probably running under system 6.1 or 6.2. The upgrade disks are available from your local computer store and only take a few minutes to install. If you have any connections at all, you should be able to avoid paying anything for this. If need be, I can probably arrange to ship you the (four) disks and walk you through the process over the phone. We need to get this done as soon as possible because NONE of us can make the leap to version 2.0 until ALL of us are ready.

I haven't given much thought yet to how the new version will impact the design of Archipelago 2.0. Of course, I will implement styled text as soon as we make the jump, so that we can start using italics right away. There are some new possibilities in the area of marking cards and placing hypertext references within voice card text. I should also be able to provide a better print option.

Most of us have the small nine inch screens, so I'm not sure if it will be worth trying to make voice cards bigger. Perhaps I can implement this as an option. Color is another area that I probably won't delve into at first (unless someone leaves a color monitor on my doorstep). But I am open, as always, to suggestions. Are there any new features you would like to see in voice cards? Speak up!

HyperCard 2.0 will probably hit the streets sometime in September or so (I am just guessing). I'll keep you posted as events unfold...